SHS Graduates Return as Teachers


SHS grads Jen Daniels (left) and Ani Koziel (right) returned to SPS this year as substitute teachers

Jane Naylor, Staff Writer

When Ani Koziel and Jen Daniels graduated from Scituate High School, both agreed they would “never in a million years” come back to Scituate Public Schools as a teacher. However, with the pandemic increasing the demand for long-term substitute teachers, these recent college graduates stepped up to fill foreign language and math positions at Gates Middle School and SHS. 

Jen Daniels, who is working as a high school math teacher, graduated from SHS in 2016 with no particular desire to become a teacher. Daniels attended UMass Lowell, where for her first two years she majored in math, then switched to marketing and management, receiving her degree in Business Administration and Marketing. 

According to Daniels, part of her inspiration to study math at the college level was her remarkable math experience at the high school. Daniels took Honors Algebra 2, Honors Geometry, Honors Pre-Calculus, and AP Calculus A/B. Daniels said SHS math teacher Craig Parkins, who taught her AP Calculus A/B, was her most memorable teacher. She said his class was always “fun and engaging,” and was “one of the reasons [she] wanted to pursue math.”

Four years later, Daniels said it’s “fun working with the teacher who made you love math.” In fact, math department chair Elizabeth Grindle talked to Parkins prior to officially hiring Daniels. Parkins said Daniels was a hard worker, advocated and supported other kids, and was a strong math student.

When Daniels attended SHS, Grindle was an assistant principal. Grindle agreed that as a high school student, Daniels was “an advocate for all students, regardless of their backgrounds or interests.” According to Grindle, the personal qualities demonstrated by Daniels are “probably the perfect advertisement for a teacher.” She said Daniels is passionate about kids, willing to work as a teammate, and willing to learn about technology.

In fact, technology is a prominent part of hybrid-learning this year. Daniels teaches two classes of Honors Introduction to Calculus, which consist of all seniors. Daniels said she likes teaching seniors and the idea of helping them apply to college and giving them advice, especially since she recently went through the same process.  

Although being a first-year teacher during the current COVID-19 circumstances is challenging, Daniels thinks of it as an advantage. She said it’s interesting, and because it’s her first year, and she doesn’t know anything different, it may be easier for her than for other teachers. Daniels said she’s lucky to be sharing a room with Grindle and fellow math teacher Caitlyn McGlynn because she can see how a class functions and they can easily collaborate on Wednesdays. 

Daniels loves teaching and gets excited over the weekend at the thought of planning lessons for the week. She especially enjoys teaching her students something they’ve never seen before. Daniels added that it is rewarding and satisfying when they understand it.

Daniels is currently looking into taking her MTEL (Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure) now that she’s more experienced and has grown to love teaching during her short time at SHS. 

At the middle school, Ani Koziel, a 2015 Scituate High School graduate, has returned to teach Latin and French. While attending George Washington University, where she majored in International Affairs and Economics, Koziel became fluent in French after participating in a study abroad program in France. After funding was cut for her graduate work in terrorism analysis at the University of Maryland due to COVID, Koziel ended up back home in Scituate. 

Having known Koziel as a student when he was a high school English teacher, Gates principal Ryan Beattie learned about Koziel’s circumstance, remembered her impressive academic reputation, and decided to reach out to gauge her interest in teaching at Gates Middle School. Koziel was qualified to fill a long-term substitute position, as she took Latin from 7th grade all the way through AP at the high school level. 

With her strong ties to the community, Koziel decided to return to Scituate, saying she’s “happy to give back” to a school that gave her so much. Koziel commented that when she was a Latin student, she “really enjoyed the mythology and the culture” that went with learning the language. Although Koziel doesn’t see herself continuing in the teaching profession, she likes how it is helping with her communication and researching skills.

Foreign language department chair Kathryn Ciulla describes Koziel as “poised.” Ciulla said she is grateful for how “calm, cool, and collected” she is after such a quick turn around hiring her only days before the first day of school. One of the reasons Koziel was hired was because of her “wonderful reputation with Mr. Beattie and with other teachers,” said Ciulla. When Ciulla mentioned to other teachers that her department was interested in hiring Koziel, her colleagues said, “You would be so lucky to get her.” Koziel’s former teachers described her as “diligent” and “such a hard worker,” which Ciulla saw right away. 

Coincidentally, having graduated within a year of each other, Koziel and Daniels knew each other from when they participated in theatre and chorus at SHS. Even though neither one expected to be working back in Scituate after college, both are very happy to be a part of the teaching staff and excited about their new adventure.